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Toronto Maple Leafs’ Morgan Rielly, fellow junior call-ups to have shorter window to win NHL jobs

Toronto Maple Leafs first-round pick Morgan Rielly (Getty Images)

Well, here's one sop for junior hockey operators dealing with the ripple effect of the NHL starting its season four months late. Should Morgan Rielly open the season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, just to use one example of a teenaged prospect who's been plucked away in the middle of the major junior season, his NHL team will have a shorter window before it has to commit to using the first year of his entry-level contract.

It appears the normal 'nine-game rule' will be pro-rated to five, in keeping with the lockout-shortened 48-game schedule. There will still be "no time to give up games" in a season that's so short. Chances are, someone is going last long enough to play some NHL games. That happened in the 1995 season. While this might seem like a contradiction, there's also no exhibition schedule to see how the likes of Rielly, the Montreal Canadiens' Alex Galchenyuk or Boston Bruins' Dougie Hamilton look against pro competition. At least some junior team could get their star player back sooner if the NHL exceeds his grasp.

From Bob McKenzie:

One should not jump too quickly to conclusions about what this means for the NHL chances of 18-year-olds such as Reilly with the Leafs, Galchenyuk in Montreal, New York Islanders' Griffin Reinhart and Buffalo Sabres' Mikhail Grigorenko. (The Minnesota Wild also have Red Deer Rebels star Mathew Dumba at camp but it seems to understood he'll be back.) The same goes for the various 19-year-olds who have been been invited to camp, such as the Boston Bruins' Dougie Hamilton, Islanders' Ryan Strome, Columbus Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner and so on.

It is a disruption to the junior season, but c'est la vie. At least it will not happen for at least another eight years.

It's not BTN's place to take wild guesses at which teens will prove capable of being a league-average NHLer and leaving junior behind, while having a manageable salary-cap hit (make a note of that in Galchenyuk's case). Whenever someone does, there's little the junior team can do but offer a fare-thee-well. That is one of the breaks of the game. Chances are, the vast majority of the teens at camps are going to be back in the CHL in due time.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to

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